Stack test results released Friday show Northern Pulp’s emissions have improved since the last tests were conducted in April.

The results, posted by the Nova Scotia Department of Environment and completed July 24 by Stantec Consulting Ltd., were the first since the new precipitator began operating in June.

Particulate emissions from the recovery boiler are well below the new regulatory limit, indicating the new equipment is working as expected. The limit for emissions in the 2015 industrial approval is almost 80 per cent lower than the mill’s previous approval.

“This is an important milestone in our work to ensure a cleaner operating mill, and to ensure we support Nova Scotians in their desire for an environmentally healthy and prosperous Pictou county,” said Environment Minister Andrew Younger.

The new equipment is in a commissioning phase where it is being fine-tuned, which is expected to be complete in October. After that, the mill must comply with the new emissions limit outlined in the 2015 industrial approval.

“We’re pleased to see such positive results so early in the commissioning phase of the new precipitator,” said Younger.

All other stack test results were also below the required limits, including the power boiler, which had previously been slightly above the approved limit.

In July’s ministerial decision, Environment staff were directed to review information received during the appeal process. The government made eight changes to Northern Pulp’s permit, with seven of the eight changes being administrative and mostly dealing with wording. Staff continue to meet with Northern Pulp on reductions in water use, with the outcome expected in September.

To date, two appeals have been filed to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, one from Pictou Landing First Nations and one from Northern Pulp, which was filed on Friday.

Communications manager Kathy Cloutier said the company filed the appeal because the decision letter didn’t address all of the items of concern to the company. As part of the process and in order to continue with discussions on these items, Northern Pulp had to file a formal appeal.

“Our discussions with the Department of Environment have been very constructive recently,” she said.

She said if industrial approval is achieved between the company and the Environment Department, the appeal filing would be withdrawn.

“Northern Pulp’s primary objective is to achieve through dialogue with government and First Nations an Industrial Approval which allows us to meet our environmental responsibility, therefore making any court process unnecessary,” said Northern Pulp general manager Bruce Chapman.